Brilliant Maps claim that:

While the 49th parallel is often thought of as the border between the US and Canada, the vast majority of Canadians (roughly 72%) live below it, with 50% of Canadians living south of 45°42′ (45.7 degrees) north or the red line above.

They illustrate it with this diagram:

49th Parallel in Canada

They go on to explain that Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa are "below" this line.

This is a widely-shared claim. AmazingMaps make a similar claim.

It was discussed in a Quora question but the answers seem to be contradicting each other and are mostly based on opinions.

Does 50% of the Canadian population live south of the 45°42′N latitude?

  • 4
    I found a paper of unknown date, "The Population Center of Canada - Just North of Toronto?!?" by Mark P. Kumler and Michael F. Goodchild, that using 1986 population data put the median center at 45° 39' N - slightly north of downtown Montréal and approximately consistent with that line. Jan 3, 2021 at 1:01
  • 8
    Nobody who lives in Canada is surprised by this. Jan 3, 2021 at 2:37
  • 5
    @AndrewGrimm The Quebec City–Windsor Corridor alone contains about half of Canada's population, and all of that corridor lies well below the 49th parallel that forms almost all of Canada's southern boundary westward of the Lake of the Woods. Jan 3, 2021 at 7:27
  • 5
    They huddle up against the US for warmth.
    – Schwern
    Jan 3, 2021 at 20:31
  • 4
    We need that quote from the Devil's Dictionary; "MAN, n. An animal so lost in rapturous contemplation of what he thinks he is as to overlook what he indubitably ought to be. His chief occupation is extermination of other animals and his own species, which, however, multiplies with such insistent rapidity as to infest the whole habitable earth and Canada"
    – RedSonja
    Jan 5, 2021 at 11:06

1 Answer 1


Close Enough

The claim is from 2015. Canada in 2016 had a population of 35,151,728.

Looking at the 2016 population for Census Metropolitan Areas in Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia in that area with over 100,000 population...

They add up to 15,716,433 or 44.7% of the population. It's reasonable to assume the remaining smaller population centers, and people outside of population centers, will bring it near enough to 50% to say this claim is true.

  • But what is Letterkenny's population?
    – CGCampbell
    Jan 5, 2021 at 17:30
  • 1
    @CGCampbell 156
    – Schwern
    Jan 6, 2021 at 1:37
  • 2
    @CGCampbell Depends whether spare parts count.
    – choster
    Jan 6, 2021 at 3:02

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